The traditions behind Trumpism

Trumpism is the latest manifestation of the hostility to foreign things that keeps cropping up in America’s history. Our history is one of immigrant waves that are denounced, become assimilated, and join in denouncing the next immigrant wave. Hostility is especially strong when the country seems threatened. During World War I speaking German could get you in trouble; during World War II over 100,000 Japanese Americans were put in concentration camps without so much as reasonable suspicion of anything.

Scan of newspaper ad saying 'No Irish need apply'
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . 1 Comment »

Battling the search engines

Whether it’s Google, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo, all the search engines seem to work the same way, and they all have the same problems. I generally use Startpage, but it’s just a privacy-enhancing front end to Google. If you look for an unusual word, they’ll decide it should really be another word. I’ve gotten used to this happening with my name, but even the FCC Commissioner has the same problem, with search engines giving mostly “O’Reilly” in the results when I search for “O’Rielly.” If I search for DROID, the software tool from the UK National Archive, I’ll get lots of hits for “Android.” (Insert obvious Star Wars joke here.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Battling the search engines

Miscellaneous usage gripes

Language changes, but usages that don’t make logical sense bother me. Here are some of my pet peeves (and why would anyone have a peeve for a pet?):

Rising to a crescendo. A crescendo is an increase, usually in the volume of a musical piece.

A is exponentially greater than B. An exponential curve is one where the y value is a number raised to the x value (or is a linear function of a number raised to a linear function of the x value). It’s known for its rapid growth. But any positive number A that’s greater than positive number B is B raised to some power. Update: Not strictly true. 1 to any power is just 1. Come on, people, you’re supposed to catch me at these things!

Meteoric rise. Meteors fall.

Quantum leap. A quantum leap is the smallest possible amount of change.

Epithets ending in “phobia.” Phobia is persistent fear without a rational cause. Used to score points against an opponent, it’s psychologizing. If you want to say someone is hostile or bigoted, say that. Or at least be consistent and say that opposition to a high-rise development is “acrophobia.”

Substituted with. This generally means “substituted for, or replaced with, I’m not sure which and it doesn’t matter.”

Home signs reading “The [last name]’s.” I assume it’s the home of the clan head, especially if the name sounds Scottish.

Déjà vu all over again. This was funny once, but not when I see “Déjà vu all over again” again and again.

Posted in General. Tags: . Comments Off on Miscellaneous usage gripes

Arisia’s terms of service

I didn’t attend Arisia, but according to accounts I’ve seen on, the registration lines were a disaster as a result of a bizarre policy. I’m going by second-hand information here, but I haven’t seen it contradicted, and if it’s correct it’s a good reason for me to keep skipping Arisia.

Arisia draws a few thousand people, so there are going to be lines under the best of circumstances, but they were made worse by requiring each person to sign a “document which looked to want a lawyer’s attention for a week to figure it out.” This document was Arisia’s code of conduct, or perhaps a document incorporating it by reference. That code is about 1800 words long and contains items which people need to think about carefully. People weren’t given a copy to sign until they reached the front of the line. If each person took five minutes to read the document, it’s impressive that everyone got registered by the time the convention was over. I suppose a lot of people felt pressured into signing without reading.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Arisia’s terms of service

Apple vs. the surveillance state

“I want you to think!”

“How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?”

      — Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

The FBI has ordered Apple to undertake a spyware development program. Apple is saying no. I applaud Apple, and I hope that if the FBI gets its way, the developers charged with the task will quit.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Apple vs. the surveillance state

Silent movies

I love silent movies. Specifically, I love accompanying them, whether it’s for an audience or not. YouTube has lots of old silent movies, and I’ll put my iPad on the Yamaha keyboard and improvise to fit the movie. The only disadvantage is that YouTube inserts commercials by what must be a Poisson process, senselessly breaking in on whatever is happening. 1921 Hamlet thumbnail
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Silent movies

Twitter’s user manipulation

Social media sites keep deciding that the key to success is to be more like Facebook. It never works. I have no idea why Facebook is so popular, but no one’s improved their competitive position by emulating its most annoying features. Now Twitter is trying anyway. This bothers me because I’ve found Twitter more useful and less bothersome than the alternatives.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Twitter’s user manipulation

Udemy retroactively bans courses

As some of you know, I have a couple of video courses up on Udemy. With a notice I received yesterday, I’m not feeling very happy about this.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Udemy retroactively bans courses

Will New Hampshire reject Trumpism?

There’s just one more week to endure till the New Hampshire primary is over. I’ve stopped answering my door unless I’m expecting someone. Our condo complex has a clear “No solicitors” sign, but the campaigners pay no regard to private property. The junk mail is disgusting. Yesterday I got a piece, not obviously for any particular candidate, saying Trump isn’t anti-immigrant enough. I throw them in the recycling bin outside so I don’t even have to take them into the house.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Will New Hampshire reject Trumpism?